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Eileen Agar

(British, 1899-1991)

Tropic of Music

oil on canvas
127 x 102 cm (50 x 40⅛ in.)
signed ‘AGAR’; signed and dated ‘AGAR 1969’ (on the verso)

‘I am a secret painter ... it is something that germinates like a seed; in the dark soil and recesses of the living coral of the mind ... They grow like a plant, slowly putting out shoots, they need pruning, mediating on, while the roots grow in the dark’ (E.Agar quoted in M. Remy, Eileen Agar: Dreaming Oneself Awake, London, 2017, p. 149).

One of the many garden themed paintings Agar created over her lifetime, Tropic of Music, draws on modernist techniques of Abstract Expressionism and Surrealism. Bursting with colour and dynamism, the present work shows Agar’s ability to illustrate her passion for the natural world. Similar to Agar’s renowned collages, layers of shapes dance over one another, and her self-described ‘imaginative playfulness’ creates a lyrical arrangement with outlines of musical symbols and flowers seen amidst the composition.

Captivated by the mysteries and complexities of nature, Eileen Agar’s immersive drawings, paintings and collages established her as one of the most diverse female figures of British Surrealism. Spending time in Cubist and Surrealist Art circles and forming friendships with artists such as Pablo Picasso and Fantisek Foltýn in the 1930s and '40s, Agar fluidly evolved her practice, combining themes of ambiguity and organic form throughout her oeuvre.

Private collection, UK (acquired from the artist in the 1970s)

Edinburgh, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Eileen Agar, 1999-2000, no. 107


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